This sermon is number 23 in series of 24
Ezekiel - Part 23
"Temple Worship In The Millennium"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2002 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now we're turning to Ezekiel chapter 43. You'll remember on our last Monday night before the break, before the Christmas holidays and the New Year holidays, we were looking in some depth at the new millennial temple that will be built in Jerusalem in the thousand year reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. We quite hurriedly looked through that, and if you want to know a bit more - there's probably quite a lot that you missed that evening - why not get the tape and the study notes if you weren't here, and the boys up in the room will be glad to facilitate you in that way. I'll just put this up on the board tonight [diagram of Millennial Temple from previous study] so that you can be refreshed, perhaps you weren't here as we looked at the temple.
We're looking this evening at "Temple Worship in the Millennium", the worship that will be going on in the temple. This will refresh your mind, and some of the things that we'll be talking about we'll be able to point out to you on this diagram. We're not going to do any reading as such, but we'll just look at a few verses from verse 13 on of chapter 43 to get the context. We'll be looking right through to chapter 46 right to the end. "And these are the measures", verse 13, "of the altar after the cubits" - now you'll remember in the last study that we were taking we looked specifically at the building, the outer court, the inner court, and the actual building of the new millennial temple. We noted a number of the furniture that was around this temple, and we noted some that were not there and some that are there. One of the very significant things that we have just reached in verse 13, and the reason why we've left it today, is because it's one of the central features of the worship in the millennial temple - and that is the brazen altar.
There are many things that are not in this millennial temple, but one thing that there is - specifically the Holy Spirit tells us - is an altar. Verse 13 tells us: "The cubit is a cubit and an hand breadth; even the bottom shall be a cubit", and so on, and all the details of this great altar are laid down. Then we go through the ordinance of how that altar is to be consecrated in the rest of the chapter. If you cast your mind back for just one moment, you will remember that we have been studying right through the whole book of Ezekiel, and the theme of Ezekiel is the glory of God. First of all, how the glory of God rested with His people, Israel. The specific place that it rested was over the mercy seat, that is above the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, in the tabernacle in the book of Exodus, and then in the temple later on in the Old Testament. But the book of Ezekiel is the story of how the glory had departed - Ichabod, the glory had gone because of the people's sin. We've seen in recent chapters that the sin of the nation of Israel, specifically the city of Jerusalem and the leaders of the people, was gradually creeping into the very holiest place of all, the temple of Almighty God.
We looked in weeks gone by at the awful abominations that were taking place right in the very premises of God's holy temple. Now, because of that, God removed His glory - and that is what the book of Ezekiel is about: the departing of the glory. We noted how it came, and it hovered over the threshold at the door of the temple, and then it went to the Mount of Olives, and then eventually it disappeared. Just as the people had been taken captive into the land of Babylon there by the river Chebar, it was as if the glory of God, the Shekinah of God, had also been taken captive with them and was no longer in the temple. We noted how Jerusalem was absolutely destroyed, and then the temple was destroyed also. A terrible tragic scene, and we've been through many a dark chapter in Ezekiel where there was no light at the end of the tunnel, where there seemed to be no promises for the people of God from their Holy Jehovah.
But now we have entered into the last section of this great prophecy, and in recent weeks we have been noting how God is going to gather His scattered people from all the ends of the earth and bring them, one day, to the land of Israel - that's what Ezekiel said. We see it happening today: 1943, the nation of Israel was made a specific nation again. We see it as a physical people, they are formed again as a nation, but they are not spiritually yet. What Ezekiel talks about is a day when the Shekinah glory of God will return again to His temple. Now, that has never ever happened, and it is still to come in a day in the thousand year reign of our Lord Jesus Christ - and where we're reading and where we are studying tonight, the glory has returned, the Shekinah glory of God is back with His people, and therefore we must say upon the authority of God's word, no matter what theologians and great preachers say, God is not finished with His ancient people Israel. God still has a plan for them.
His plan is that the glory that was with them once will shine again from the temple - in fact, it is greater than that: for the glory will be greater than it has ever been before. So, the glory is back in the temple, and the people are therefore instructed to worship God according to the new glory that they are seeing in Him. Of course, we know that that glory that will return to the temple is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. I don't know whether you have the prophecy timeline that I gave you a few weeks ago on the back of one of your study sheets, but if you don't let me just remind you of the calendar of God's prophetic word. First of all, the next thing that we are waiting on, is the church of Jesus Christ to be raptured - to be taken out of this scene of time and to go to heaven for the Judgement Seat of Christ, where we will be rewarded for our works, and where there will be the marriage of the Lamb, when the bride of Christ, the church, will be united to her Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. But while that is going on in heaven, there will be seven years of tribulation here upon the earth. We learnt that during that seven years a tribulation temple will be built, and we saw in our last study that that tribulation temple - as we speak - is being prepared. But then, at the end of the seven years, there will be a great war. We learnt how all the nations of the world, many of them, will go around Israel and will attack her. At that point Israel will cry out to a Saviour and to God to deliver them, and at that moment the Lord Jesus Christ will return and His feet will bodily land on the Mount of Olives, and He will defeat Israel's enemies, and He will usher in 1000 years of peace and righteous reign upon the earth. Now that is what we mean when we speak of the millennial reign of Christ - 1000 years where Christ will reign upon the earth.
So, this temple will take place during that 1000 years. Jews specifically, but all the world will worship God from this temple, and we have in these next chapters - specifically 44 through to 46 - the code and the instructions of how God is to be worshipped in this temple. The Lord Jesus Christ will return, He will come through the eastern gate of the temple. After He comes through the eastern gate of the temple that eastern gate will be sealed as a mark of honour that only Christ can go through in and out of that eastern gate. I did say to you in our last study that the eastern gate in Jerusalem today is sealed, but I hope I didn't confuse you into thinking that that would be the gate the Lord Jesus Christ would come through into the temple - He may well come through that gate when He returns to the Mount of Olives, and go through it and then go through into the temple, but that is not the gate that is spoken of here, although He probably will come through it. He returns, and His very presence brings that Shekinah glory of God again, and God's people Israel are now commanded to worship.
Now, let me say before I go on: this is a very complex study tonight, it's a very difficult study. I do not stand here and think that I have all the answers, for I have not - and I may well be wrong - but I'm giving to you tonight a great deal of what I believe the word of God teaches with regards to this worship. I'm trying to be honest with the word of God. These next few chapters tell us, first of all, about the participants within the worship in this millennial temple. Chapter 44 to chapter 45 verse 8, and in verses 5 through to 31 of chapter 44 we have its priesthood, the priests that will operate within this temple. Who are they? Who will these priests be? Now, with your Old Testament knowledge of the word of God, you would be excused for thinking that these priests will be Levites, for all the priests in the Old Testament were Levites - of the tribe of Levi. That is a bit of the truth, but as we look closer within Ezekiel - look at chapter 40 for a moment and verse 46 - we get a few clues to who these priests will be. "The chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him". Chapter 43 and verse 19 tells us: "And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me", or to serve me, "saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering". Chapter 44 and verse 15, again 'the sons of Zadok' are mentioned. Chapter 48 and verse 11, again 'the sons of Zadok' - four times or more the sons of Zadok will be assigned in the word of God to be priests in the millennial temple.
Now, Zadok was of the tribe of Levi, but they certainly weren't all the tribe of Levi that operated as priests in the Old Testament Scriptures. So we need to ask the question: why is it that all of the Levites are not included in this? Why is it that Zadok, specifically his sons, are going to minister in this new millennial temple? He is the 11th in the descent from Aaron. Well, the reason can be found in 1 Samuel chapter 2 and verse 35 if you turn with me, God says: "I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever". During the reign of David the Old Testament Scriptures teach us that there was one priest who alone had unwavering loyalty to the King - that priest was Zadok. Because of that position in Israelite history that priest will be given the glorious opportunity and the glorious privilege of being a priest before God in the millennial reign of Christ.
The Levites, all of them who were given the privilege in the Old Testament, they will not be given that privilege in the millennial reign. All the other sons of Levi, yes, as we read on they're given positions of authority, they're given positions of ministry and service, but they are not allowed to present the offerings, the sacrifices, and the pinnacle and crux of the worship in the millennial temple can only be for the priests, the sons of Zadok. The reason being, if you go right back to the very beginning of the priesthood in the Old Testament Scriptures, right from the very start of Aaron and right through all the tribe of Levi, you will find that almost from the beginning it was an absolute failure. Sin, right from the start to the very end of the Old Testament Scriptures, and because of that God has taken away from them the privilege of priesthood and given it to Zadok who was faithful to God and faithful to David in days of declension and in days of apostasy.
This is a very minor point in the whole of the worship in the millennial temple, but I think it's a very, very important one for us tonight in the 21st century - why? Because here we have a spiritual principle: God is saying from the Old Testament, He is saying in the millennial reign, and indeed He is saying to us now in the church of Jesus Christ and the dispensation of grace: 'Them that honour me, I will honour'. You know the parable of the nobleman, and the ten servants and the ten pounds in Luke chapter 19, and in verse 17 the Lord says: "The nobleman said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities". Is it not a spiritual principle that those of us who are faithful in little will have committed to us much in the eyes of God? How do we fare with this? There are things that we class as little things, like reading our Bible, like praying to God, like witnessing to folk, like fellowshipping with God's people - perhaps there are other things that you consider even less. But, my friends, there is a principle - and oh, the Levites will find it out in the millennial reign of Christ to their detriment and to their poverty, that because they failed they will lose the privilege of priesthood and it will be given to one who overcame. The priests will be the sons of Zadok, and what a lesson there is for us in that.
Then secondly, the second participant that we read of is the prince. Now this is a very strange individual, in chapter 45 verse 7 we read of the prince, in verse 8 we read of him, then again in verse 17, and in chapter 46 verses 1 through to 20 we are given a description of the prince, and indeed an area within the new land of Israel that this prince will be given all to himself - and we'll be looking at that next week. We looked at the new temple in the last study, we're looking today at new worship, and in the next week we'll be looking at the new land and the layout of the land of Israel. But some 17 times in these chapters the prince is mentioned and, whoever he is, he occupies a very important role in the millennial temple itself. Apparently, according to the word of God, he holds an intermediary place between the people and the priesthood - he's like a mediator between the men and the priests.
Now let me say this: some scholars would tell us that this prince in the millennial temple is the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that would be a rational assumption to make - if we think of a prince, or a King of kings and a Lord of lords, a prince of peace, we would obviously think of the Lord Jesus, and perhaps we would find it hard thinking of another prince in the millennial reign of Christ. But it cannot be the Lord Jesus Christ - how do we know? Well, there are several reasons, but one is found in chapter 45 verse 22: "And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering". Now the Lord Jesus Christ cannot present a bullock for a sin offering, for He knew no sin, He did no sin, in Him was no sin, He was separate from sinners - it cannot be Him. But there are more reasons than that, chapter 46 and verse 16 tells us: "Thus saith the Lord GOD; If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons". There's another reason: this prince is married, and this prince has sons. Another reason, as we go through these chapters, is that he cannot enter by the east gate - it says that the prince is specifically prohibited from going through the east gate, but who goes through the east gate? The Lord Jesus Christ goes in and out the east gate, that's why other people are prohibited - so it cannot be Him.
The fourth reason we find is because he cannot offer sacrifices. If you read through the chapters you find that this prince is not to perform priestly acts, but we find right through the Old Testament - Psalm 110:4, Zechariah 6:12,13 - that in the millennial reign the Lord Jesus Christ will perform sacrifices. He will [serve] as a priest in the millennium. Then fifthly, chapter 46 verse 2: "And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate without, and shall stand by the post of the gate, and the priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate". The Lord Jesus Christ cannot worship the Lord, because the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord. He will serve in a priestly capacity, as the Great High Priest - perhaps I said 'worship' earlier, that was wrong - He will not worship, He will be worshipped.
So there are five reasons: He cannot prepare a sin offering for Himself; this man is married with sons; this man cannot enter in and out of the eastern gate; this man cannot perform priestly duties as Messiah will; and this man must worship the Lord. Now some people, for that reason, suggest it is the seed of David. There's a good case for that, that it is the seed of David, it will be a descendant of David - but the problem is today we don't know who the descendants of David are. Other say that, after the Old Testament saints are resurrected, that this will be David in his resurrected state who will carry out this type of operation as a vice regent to the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings. Do you want to know my answer? I haven't a notion! I don't know, and I don't think we can truly tell - but one thing is sure: there will be a prince in the millennial reign, in the temple, who will administer the kingdom of God on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ for those 1000 years.
Do you see the picture being painted? I don't expect you to remember everything that we say tonight, but just note that there will be priests in this temple and there will be one individual who is categorised as the prince. Then thirdly on your sheet you see 'the pure' are mentioned. Chapter 44 and verses 5 to 9, specifically verse 5 at the end, you will see this statement: "mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary". That could be translated: 'Mark well those who may enter'. Now, picture this: the Lord's glory is filling the temple, the reason why the Lord's glory left the temple in the book of Ezekiel is because of the sin of God's people - therefore God is saying: 'In the millennial reign of Christ you mark well who comes in and who goes out of the temple. It is a sanctified place'. In verse 4 Ezekiel saw that the glory of God filled the place so much that he fell on his face before God in worship. Therefore, because it is so holy, because it is so set apart, God is extremely particular about who goes in and who goes out, the kind of people that worship there. In other words, the sins of the past - chapters 8 through to 11 - that were so graphically painted for us, they will not be repeated! And if any Israelite wants to repeat them, they will be excluded from the temple for the glory of God is coming back again to Israel, and the glory of God is going to stay there.
The Lord says that only the circumcised in heart may enter in. My friends, as you go through the word of God you find that circumcision, right from Abraham through the Old Testament, was a picture of their devotion to the Lord. But never ever forget that in Deuteronomy, right at the very beginning of circumcision, the Lord said that He one day would circumcise the people's heart, and the heart of their seed, to love the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul, that they may live. God always intended for circumcision not to be a thing that marked the external flesh, but He wanted it to be testimony of a circumcised heart that loved God. There were individuals who were like that towards God, but never was the whole nation circumcised in heart before Him. He said through the prophet Jeremiah: "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and takeaway the foreskins of your heart ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest my fury come forth like fire and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings". We see in the book of Romans chapter 2 that what is important in the eyes of God is circumcision of the heart.
Now, Ezekiel is told: 'You mark well who comes into this temple, and the only people that I'm going to allow into this temple are those who are circumcised in their heart'. It doesn't matter whether they're from Israel or whether they're from another nation, verses 7 and 9 tell us that. There will be many other peoples apart from the Jews that will go into the kingdom in unresurrected bodies - in other words, there will be people converted during the seven year tribulation period, and they will enter into the millennial reign of Christ in their ordinary bodies that you're in now. They will worship God from their redeemed, circumcised hearts, because they were ready for the Lord's return.
Circumcision of the heart represents sincerity before God about removing sin, and sincerity before God about devotion and worship to Him. Remember God told the people through Jeremiah that He would put a new heart in them, He would put His Spirit in them, He would take away their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh, and He said: 'On that day that I do that', and that's speaking of the millennial reign, He said, 'Ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart'. We can apply that to ourselves, but in its context it is speaking to Israel on the great day, and only those - mark well now, Ezekiel - only those with circumcised hearts. Jews with an uncircumcised heart but circumcised flesh will not be allowed in; Gentiles with uncircumcised flesh but a circumcised heart before God will go in and worship God.
We have today - praise His holy name - the imputed righteousness of Christ. Do you ever think about that? You know that if you look through rose-tinted glasses you see rose-tinted things, don't you? If you trace your eye along a stained-glass window, you would see a blue window. When you look out at the street below you would see everything blue, you look through the yellow one and everything is yellow, you look through the red one and everything is red. God looks through the Christ one, and He sees you covered with His righteousness! That's the imputed righteousness of Christ, and we've got it! But my friend, the big question to apply to our hearts tonight - mark well those who enter into worship of God - it's not just the imputed righteousness that we have, but if that imputed righteousness is in us surely there must be a practical righteousness that outflows from it? How do we fare there? God says we have a worship, we have sacrifice: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God" - not 'wholly', but 'holy' - "holy, acceptable unto God, which is your expected spiritual worship".
In the study today I was looking through a few books, one of them is this thick and it outlines every conceivable and possible theme and subject concerning Christianity, and spirituality, and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and there was an article about that long on holiness in it. I went to another great book that many of you will know of illustrations - I don't want to name it, for the brother is good that writes it - but I looked under the title of holiness and I found nothing! Friends, that reflects the health of holiness, or the wholeness of holiness, in the church of Jesus Christ today - it has been put aside. But God says in the millennium - now we're not talking about the Old Testament - in the millennium, 'Mark them well, I'm not going to let just anybody in'. For God says: 'Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord' - thank God we'll come not in beauty of our own, but in His imputed righteousness. But friends, do you have that practical righteousness?
There was a mother who visited her boy at university, and entering his room she was horrified as her eyes scanned the wall to see about a dozen suggestive pictures on the wall. She said nothing, but her heart was broken and she went home, and she decided that she was going to send her son a picture in the post. The next day the postman brought the parcel to the young man's door, and as he opened it over his breakfast he found that it was a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. He took it very proudly and he hung it above his desk, but as he looked at it for a few moments he took down some of the pictures round about it. Then the next day a few more of those pictures went into the wastebasket, until eventually all of the pictures were gone. Do you know what that means? Without holiness no man can see the Lord - mark well! Mark well who enters and who goes out!
Those are the participants, and we must move on to the practices because this is the most controversial part of the new worship in the millennium. The first thing that we see taking place is business within this temple, and this might be surprising to you when you consider the actions of our Lord Jesus Christ in the temple in Jerusalem. But the reason why He acted in that way was not because there was business specifically in the temple, but because of their exploiting of the business - they were ripping the people off. Right throughout the Old Testament it seems to be normal, as far as I can discern, for there to be a little bit of tax within the temple to run the temple. It will be the same in the millennium, chapter 45 verses 9 to 16, there will be general office business if you like, standard weights - that is to ensure that people will not be conning other people in their weighing and in their measuring. There will be a temple tax to run the temple, to facilitate the sacrifices and the priest. Then there will be some specific affairs: there will be land allotment - and we'll see this in our next study, chapters 47 and 48 - the whole land will be divided up again between the twelve tribes of Israel, and it will be a total size approximately the size of the piece of land that was promised Abraham in Genesis chapter 15.
So, there is business, and then we find there are feasts in the millennial worship. Chapter 45 and verses 18 to 22, one of the greatest feasts that will be celebrated will be the Passover. If you look on the back of your study sheet that you were given this evening, you will see that there is a comparison there of the Levitical feasts in the Old Testament in the book of Leviticus, in the first five books of the Bible, specifically Leviticus, and these feasts that will take place in the millennial reign of Christ, in the millennial worship.
2. Passover (Lev 23:5)
3. Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:6-8)
4. Pentecost (Lev 23:9-22)
5. Trumpets (Lev 23:23-25)
6. Atonement (Lev 23:26-32)
7. Tabernacles (Lev 23:33-44)
1. New Year (Ezek 45:18-20)
2. Passover (Ezek 45:21-24)
3. Unleavened Bread (Ezek 45:21-24)
7. Tabernacles (Ezek 45:25)
We find that three of the six Levitical feasts will be celebrated in the millennial reign of Christ. The three that are specifically celebrated are especially fulfilled in the millennial reign. Now we can't go into that tonight, we don't have time, but take it from me that these three are especially fulfilled - the other three have been fulfilled, and can't be more fulfilled in any capacity in the millennial reign. There you have the New Year, which is a new feast; then you have the Passover; the feast of Unleavened Bread; and the feasts of Tabernacles. As you go into the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 5 and verse 7, we find that Paul says this: "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us". You might say here tonight: 'Well, surely Christ is our Passover? Surely what you're resurrecting tonight, David, whether it's from Ezekiel or not, it's all Old Testament things, it is all the stuff of the law, of the Pentateuch, and has that all not been done out by Christ in the New Testament in the dispensation of grace? Is Christ not our Passover sacrifice for us?'.
Well, if you look at the second list on your sheet, Millennial Sacrifices, you see that not only will there be millennial feasts and three of the six of Leviticus will be celebrated - but all of the millennial offerings will reflect the Levitical offerings in the Old Testament, every single one of them, all seven of them will be repeated in the thousand year reign of Christ.
1. Burnt (Lev:3-17)
2. Grain (Lev 2:1-16)
3. Peace (Lev 3:1-17)
4. Sin (Lev 4:1-35)
5. Trespass (Lev 5:1-6:7)
6. Drink (Lev 23:13, 37)
1. Burnt (Ezek 40:39)
2. Grain (Ezek 45:15)
3. Peace (Ezek 45:15)
4. Sin (Ezek 40:39)
5. Trespass (Ezek 40:39)
6. Drink (Ezek 45:17)
NB. Isa 56:7, 66:20-23; Jer 33:18 also confirm the burnt and grain offerings.
Look at them. There is the burnt offering, and the burnt offering was simply all of the lamb or the beast was burnt, and it signified, it represented the whole of the Lord Jesus Christ dedicated to the will of God, going to sacrifice. The burnt offering will be celebrated. As you read on you find that the meal offering will be celebrated, the meal offering was simply a handful of flour, and part of oil, and part of frankincense. It spoke typically, it represented the unblemished nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He delighted God, that His humanity is presented before God - God took great pleasure in it. Then you find thirdly the peace offering, that was all the fat of the beast offered to God, and that spoke of the reconciliation between us and God - for He is our peace. Not only breaking down the wall of separation between us and God, but the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile, bond and free, and so on. That will be repeated. Fourthly the sin offering will be repeated. The Lord Jesus Christ was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, but that offering will be repeated in the millennial reign of Christ. Fifthly there is the trespass offering, and that's speaking of going over the line of the law, breaking the law of God toward men and toward God. But Ezekiel says that that will be repeated too in this thousand year period.
Now here's the big question: since all of these Old Testament offerings were ultimately fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, and perfectly and completely fulfilled in Him, why do they need to be restored again in the thousand year reign of the Lord Jesus? That's the crux, that's the most difficult question perhaps in the whole of the book of Ezekiel, and that is the point at which amillennialists try to destroy pre-millennialists arguments. Let's look at these offerings, your third point on the practices. Now as we've seen already in the previous week there are parts of this temple, parts of the furniture of the Old Testament temple, that are not found in this new millennial temple. You remember we looked that there is no veil, for the veil has been rent in twain. There is no table of shewbread, because the Lord Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life come down from heaven. There are no lampstands in the new temple, because the Lord Jesus is the Light. There is no Ark, because He has perfectly fulfilled it, and He is now God's mercy seat. But we've seen already, chapter 43 verse 13, there will be a brazen altar, there will be sacrifices again.
Now it's not just in Ezekiel. You can go to Isaiah 56, Isaiah 60, Zechariah 14, Jeremiah 33 - at least four places in the Old Testament does God's word speak about sacrifices in a day yet to come, specifically in this millennial temple. So you don't have to just explain away Ezekiel if you want to do away with these sacrifices, but you've got to put away Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. Why are they needed? Christ has died, He has risen again, why are they needed in a golden age? Surely is Christ not enough, is Christ not the end and no more? Why does it say in verse 19: 'A young bull is to be given for a sin offering'? Now, let me tell you that the language in these passages is almost exactly the language of Moses from the Levitical books - just as it was given to Moses. Now here's the question: as these commands of sacrifice and offering were given to Moses in his day, did he fulfil them literally or spiritually? Of course he fulfilled them literally. But you say: 'David, that's not the point! Surely sacrifices are not needed today any more, Calvary covers it all! You would have to contradict the book of Hebrews, David, to see this in the book of Ezekiel!'.
Turn with me to Hebrews for a moment, Hebrews chapter 9 and verse 28: "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation". Chapter 10 verse 10: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all". Verse 12: "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God". Well, how do you get round that one? We don't need any more sacrifices, that's the objection. We don't need anything more to cleanse us from our sin, because Calvary covers it all - praise God, Calvary does cover it all! But that argument doesn't do away with these verses in the book of Ezekiel.
If you go to chapter 10 again of Hebrews and verse 4, if anything I believe that that objection itself contradicts the whole book of Hebrews. Why do I say that? Verse 4: "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins". My friend, let this sink into your mind and into your heart: never, ever once did any animal sacrifice take away sin - never! It didn't take away sin in the Old Testament, and it surely will never take away sin in the millennial reign of Christ. They weren't efficacious sacrifices in the Old Testament, and they won't be efficacious in the millennial reign of Christ. Now what are they for if they didn't take away sin? They are symbolic! My friend, if you say to me: 'What do we need sacrifices to take away sin for in the new millennial reign of Christ?', I ask you: what did we need them for the Old Testament when they didn't take away sin either? They never took away sin, but what they were was a symbol and a representation to show Adam and everybody after him that the wages of sin is death, and someone had to pay for sin, someone one day would have to take away sin for ever - there was a penalty for it. It was to teach the people the awfulness of their sin, it was to show them that a sacrifice was needed - but not one of those Old Testament sacrifices in any real sense brought the people into the presence of God. You say: 'Well, the word 'atonement' is right through the Old Testament' - it is; not only is it right throughout the Old Testament, it's right throughout these chapters in Ezekiel. But my friend, atonement in the Old Testament not once means the putting away permanently of sin - not once! It speaks of a covering, a ritualistic purification, a ceremonial cleanness that allowed the people to temporarily have fellowship with God - but all that they were doing was looking forward to Calvary, because they could never take away sin!
Those sacrifices in the Old Testament were prospective, they were looking forward to Calvary; and these sacrifices in the millennial temple are retrospective, looking backward. They are memorial in their nature, as the Old Testament sacrifices pointed forward to Christ's death these are tangible expressions - they're not trying to compete with Christ's death, but they're showing the value of His effective sacrifice once and for all. If any man was saved in the Old Testament it was through faith on the basis and on the credit that the sacrifice of that man was pointing forward to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who John said takes away the sin of the world. Only His blood can take away sin in the Old or in the New Testament!
But in the millennium, for the very first time, Jews will understand what they have been doing for thousands of years. Just for a moment: do we not do this in the Lord's Supper? Do we not use bread and a cup, and they're meaningful to us, but they don't in any way compete with Christ's sacrifice - they're only memorials looking back at what He has done, of His glory. Do you know what we do? We sing that great hymn:
'If now with eyes defiled and dim,
We see the signs but see not Him,
Oh, may His love the scales displace,
And bid us see Him face-to-face'.
And then we go to Ezekiel and we get so taken up with the signs that we miss what they're pointing to, which is the Lord Jesus. 'Can't have sacrifices any more!' - you're missing the point. The sacrifices don't do anything but point towards Christ and His eternal, once for all, finished sacrifice! Don't get obsessed with the sacrifices and miss the fact that they represent Christ the same as the bread and the wine. If you do, let me tell you that you're making the mistake of the papist, because the papist looks at the emblems - the wine and the wafer - and believes that they are efficacious, and if you look at these sacrifices in Ezekiel and say: 'They can't be there because they take away sin, and we don't need to take away sin!' - that's the mistake of the Roman Catholic. Nevertheless, think about it this way: could you imagine a believer remembering the Lord Jesus' death in any other way than the Breaking of Bread? I can't. Can you think of a better way for a Jew to remember the death of the Lord Jesus Christ than a sacrifice that he's been doing for thousands of years? I can't.
Blood flowed like a mighty ocean from thousands of stone altars for thousands of years, yet they could not see. The Lord Jesus came unto them and they did not recognise Him as their Messiah. He died at Calvary, He rose again, but they could not see it - but one day soon, praise God, they will look on Him whom they have pierced and be saved! For 1000 years God will restore to them the years that the locusts of their unbelief have eaten away! Then they will see it! Picture it: they will see the blood dripping from that little lamb, they will see the smoke rising from the burnt offering, and they in tearful worship will remember Christ our Passover, sacrificed for us! Can you see them in the temple? Weeping as they watch the blood dripping and remember their rejection and their crucifixion of their Lord, their Messiah in the house of His friends. Can you imagine at that moment, not only their sorrow and their feeling of guilt in a sense, but can you imagine their appreciation that God has brought them back? Can you imagine the extent of their worship? I'll tell you the extent of their worship, it's Ezekiel in 44 verse 4: 'I saw the glory of God and I fell at His feet'.
Let me show you this, verse 9 of chapter 46, what will it do to these Israelites? I'll tell you what it will do, it'll do what worship should do to us. Chapter 46 and verse 9: "When the people of the land shall come before the LORD in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth the other way". Do you know what that means? In my language: 'You'll go out a different way than you came in'. We can do that now, we can do it when we seek Christ, our Passover; when we fall at His feet and worship, and when we walk out different people because we have seen the freshly slain Lamb of God.
Oh, there's so many other reasons we haven't time to give you why there will be sacrifice. If you think about it, there won't be sin to the extent that there is in the world today - imagine, a new generation growing up where sin doesn't reign; where there is little sorrow or suffering, sickness; Satan is bound; there's no separation from the fellowship of God on the earth. We're so used to these things that we cannot imagine it, but the point is this: during that millennial reign, for 1000 years remember, there will be a whole generation - in fact more than one generation - that will grow up not knowing the heartache and the pain and the sin that we have known, how will they get saved? How will they realise the pain of sin? How will they realise that the penalty of sin is death when they're living for more than a hundred years perhaps? How will they realise that Christ had to die? You don't need to think about it long - they're sinners too, and except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, they will have to be saved. They will be reminded through these sacrifices of the necessity of the new birth, of the costliness of salvation, of the awfulness of our sin as it was laid upon Christ, and of the holiness of God as He forsook the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. That will remind them!
The most marvellous thing, perhaps, in chapter 43 is verse 27 where God says - listen to this, if you've been studying this book with us these weeks this should astound you - God says, verse 27 of 43: "I will accept you, saith the Lord". He's going to accept them! But my friend, what about us? That's Israel now, but we, now, are accepted in the Well-beloved before Israel! One day this temple will be done away with - this is one of the hurdles, people think this is going to carry on - after the thousand years that will be the end, and we will go into a new heaven and into a new earth, we will go into the new Jerusalem. The book of the Revelation chapter 21 tells us that there will be no need of a temple there, for the tabernacle of God will be with men and the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb will be the temple thereof.
'Behold', friends, 'we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure'. Let it purify you.
Our Father, we bless Thee for our blessed Saviour, Israel's Messiah, and the church's Lord: Jesus Christ. We thank Thee that all the types are fulfilled in Him, we thank Thee that He is the filling up of all the law and the prophets. Our Father we just pray now that as those two on the road to Emmaus, as they had taught to them and preached to them of Christ concerning all the Scriptures, that we would know the experience of Jesus drawing near and going with us. Amen.
Preach The Word
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the twenty-third tape in his Ezekiel series, titled "Temple Worship In The Millennium" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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